By: Tony Baranek
The way St. Rita senior Chris Childers sees it, he needs to ramp up his running game.
"The O-line does great, I just need to make better reads on my runs," he said. "I need to be a little more patient."
As a receiver, Childers was a gamebreaker for the Mustangs in their 38-21 Catholic League Blue victory Friday over Mount Carmel.
St. Rita was clinging to a seven-point lead late in the third quarter when Childers made a one-handed catch on a pass from Jake Zylman. He took the ball 17 yards to the Caravan 1.
Three plays later, David Gleaves ran it in for a score, sending the Mustangs on their way.
Childers finished with 90 yards rushing and added a 24-yard touchdown reception for St. Rita (4-1, 1-1).
Alek Thomas rushed for 104 yards and Kyle Davis scored on an 84-yard run for Mount Carmel (3-2, 0-2).
Childers had some impressive runs late, appearing to gain confidence from his key catches.
"You've just got to keep your head up," Childers said. "Jake really did a nice job on that (TD pass), and I just did my thing. I couldn't have done it without the O-line and Jake.
A day apart, St. Rita High School graduates Pat O’Connor and Kenny Golladay picked up the phone and heard the words they had both dreamed about for years.
On a warmer-than-usual Feb. 1, the St. Rita Mustangs football team saw five senior members of the 2016 squad sign national letters of intent to continue playing football at the collegiate level. One thing Ritamen learn in their four years in high school is that hard work pays off. These five Ritamen were able to showcase the fruits of their labor on National Signing Day.
St. Rita parents, family members and students were joined by Principal Brendan Conroy and Head Football Coach Todd Kuska '90 in the football office before school on Wednesday. After some coffee and donuts, Kuska thanked everyone for gathering to celebrate the accomplishments of his players. He also expressed his gratitude to the players for the commitment to the St. Rita Football program, and mentioned how much he enjoyed coaching them.
Principal Brendan Conroy said he could not be more proud of the student-athletes and told them he looks forward to following the progress of their collegiate careers, as he does with all Ritamen.
The five signees are:
|Liam Kelly||St. Ambrose University||DB|
|Marc Mondesir||University of Illinois||OLB|
|Mike McDevitt||Loras College||WR|
|Shaun Rule||Olivet Nazarene University||RB|
|Tim Zaleski||University of Wyoming||P|
In addition to the five National Signing Day commits, at least seven other St. Rita Mustang football players are undecided and weighing their options regarding collegiate football careers.
Marc Mondesir (Christ the King) could have had a bunch of college scholarship offers. But the Chicago St. Rita linebacker didn’t give many schools a chance.
The day he visited Illinois, Mondesir said “Yes” to Lovie Smith.
“He had always wanted to go to Illinois,” St. Rita coach Todd Kuska '90 said. “That’s been his dream.”
Written By: John Nee '93
After an exciting regular season that saw the “Fighting” Mustangs win three football games on their final play, seven players were recognized by the Chicago Catholic League Blue coaches with first-team All-CCL Blue honors. Senior linebacker Sean Coghlan (St. Cajetan), left guard Jake Stover (St. Christina), defensive tackle Will White (Veterans Memorial), defensive end Marc Mondesir (Christ the King), tight end/punter Timmy Zaleski (St. Catherine of Alexandria), running back Shaun Rule (Calvin Christian), and sophomore kicker Gavin Mottl (St. Christina) were amongst the 31 players named to the first team.
Coghlan, who was also named the CCL Blue Defensive Player of the Year, led the Mustangs in tackles in the regular season with 130 including 90 solos. He also had three tackles for loss and two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown versus Providence.
Stover anchored the offensive line all season at the left guard position averaging a 91% grade, including over 30 “pancake” blocks.
White, who did not play in week nine due to injury, anchored the defensive line from his defensive tackle position registering 45 tackles on the season, including 36 solos and one tackle for loss.
Mondesir, who has already committed to play his college ball for Lovie Smith at the University of Illinois, registered 37 total tackles including 29 solos. He led the Mustangs in season sacks.
Zaleski led the Mustangs with 35 receptions for 619 yards. He scored nine touchdowns on the season and also averaged 39.3 yards on 24 punts.
Rule led the Mustangs in rushing gaining 1142 yards on his 159 carries. He averaged over seven yards per carry and scored 13 touchdowns.
Mottl hit on all 28 of his extra points on the season and connected on 8-11 field goal attempts, including buzzer-beating game-winners against Mount Carmel and Marmion, and a game-tying field goal in the final seconds against Providence.
Five more Mustangs earned second-team All-CCL Blue honors, including: senior safety Liam Kelly (St. Cajetan), sophomore corner Kempton Shine (Christ the Savior), senior right tackle Matt Hovorka (Homer Jr. High), sophomore wide receiver Jake Stefanski (Troy Middle School), and junior quarterback Jake Zylman (Nathan Hale).
Written by: John Nee '93
If you’re a St. Rita football fan, there has been some real drama in your life on quite a few Fridays this fall. With a 7A playoff berth on the line last Friday night in Aurora why would it be any different? The Mustangs were trailing the Marmion Cadets 23-22 and 4.5 seconds on the clock when sophomore kicker Gavin Mottl trotted onto the field and connected on a 24-yard field goal as time expired, sending the St. Rita faithful home happy with a 25-23 victory and a spot in the Class 7A playoff field.
The Mustangs started slowly versus the Cadets falling behind 7-0 as the game approached halftime. Then senior Mike McDevitt (three receptions, 41 yards) made the play of the night, a diving 27-yard reception that set the Mustangs up first and goal at the Marmion seven-yard line. Two plays later, senior running back Shaun Rule (22 carries, 135 yards, two touchdowns) plowed over the goal line to send the teams to the halftime locker room tied at 7-7.
St. Rita, who amassed 377 yards of total offense, moved the ball well all night long only to suffer some breakdowns in Cadet territory keeping the score tied heading into the final quarter. After a long Marmion touchdown pass put them in the lead with under eight minutes left, junior Chris Childers took the stage returning the ensuing kickoff 98-yards for a touchdown, possibly saving the Mustangs’ season.
After an interception by senior safety Sean Macander thwarted another Cadet drive, the Mustang offense quickly went three-and-out causing them to have to punt the ball out of their own end zone back to Marmion with just over three minutes to play. A high punt snap then sailed out of the end zone for a safety and a 16-14 Marmion lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, junior reserve linebacker Darius Allen jarred the ball loose from the Cadet return man. It was recovered at midfield by senior Jack Owens. Three plays later on fourth-and-one from the Marmion 41-yard line, Rule took the ball off right tackle and bounced it to the sideline all the way into the end zone for a 20-16 Mustang lead. St. Rita then lined up to go for a two-point converstion, handing it off to sophomore Jake Stefanski on the end around for an easy conversion and a 22-16 St. Rita lead with 1:48 to play.
The drama did not end there.
After returning the Mustang kickoff back to their own 42-yard line, the Cadets needed only 44 seconds to reach paydirt as the re-captured a 23-22 lead with 1:04 to play. It’s a position that junior quarterback Jake Zylman (7-17 for 122 yards, one interception, 17 rushes - 57 yards) and the rest of the St. Rita offense has found itself in three previous times this season, and each time they have delivered.
This night would be no different!
After a touchback, the Mustangs took over on their own 20-yard line with one timeout remaining and their season in the balance. After a personal foul brought the ball out to their own 39-yard line, Zylman hooked up with senior receiver Timmy Zaleski (four receptions, 81 yards) on a 35-yard completion to move the ball to the Cadet 30. After a short completion to McDevitt moving the ball inside the 25, Zylman kept the ball on a counter play dragging tacklers down to the Marmion 12. Rule then rushed to his left, setting up Mottl in the middle of the field at the Cadet seven yard line for his game-winner at the buzzer, his second game-winning field goal on the final play of the game this season.
St. Rita (5-4) received the #25 seed in the Class 7A playoff field and will travel this Friday night to Rockford to play the #8 seed Auburn Knights (8-1). Game time is 7:30pm.
Written by: Scott Fredericks, The Beverly Reveiw
In a season filled with crazy and intensely close contests, many of which were decided on the final play of the game, there was no better way for the St. Rita High School football team to punch its ticket to the state playoffs.
The Mustangs earned another memorable win on Oct. 21 on the final play of the final regular-season game.
Gavin Mottl, a St. Christina Elementary School product, was the hero once again, drilling his second game-winning field goal of the season from 24 yards out as time expired. His foot helped the Mustangs complete a fourth-quarter rally for a wild 25-23 triumph in a Catholic League crossover on a crisp fall night at Marmion Academy.
As the stadium emptied on Sept. 16 following a loss to St. Laurence, St. Rita kicker Gavin Mottl picked up a ball and a tee and marched out onto the field.
The sophomore had just missed a 44-yard field goal that would have tied the game as time expired. The kick missed to the right, but Mottl wasn’t going anywhere after the game.
He wanted to get things right, and did he ever.
Just a week later, Mottl drilled a game-winning 34-yard field goal to help St. Rita take down rival Mt. Carmel at Gately Stadium in a Chicago Catholic League-Blue showdown.
“That’s one of the reasons I knew he was going to hit the kick against Mt. Carmel,” St. Rita Coach Todd Kuska said. “After the St. Laurence game, Gavin stayed out here on the field for probably an hour. He said he wanted to make sure that he would make the next kick.”
Written by: John Nee '93
With St. Rita trailing long-time Catholic League rival Mt. Carmel 28-21 in the fourth quarter Friday night at Gately Stadium, little did the Caravan know that the Mustangs had them right where they wanted them.
After a five-yard touchdown run by junior quarterback Jake Zylman (13-24 - 171 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions; 16 carries – 56 yards, 2 touchdowns) with just under nine minutes to play tied the game at 28, sophomore kicker Gavin Mottl was once again, for the third consecutive week, thrust into the spotlight with 0.6 seconds left, and the ball sitting at the Mt. Carmel 17-yard line. Last week Mottl had missed a game-tying 44-yard attempt as time expired; but this time he had all the confidence in the world in his ability.
“I treated it like I was practicing with my coach (long-time St. Rita kicking coach JJ Standring ‘97),” said Mottl.
Mt. Carmel coach Frank Lenti called two consecutive timeouts, attempting to ice the sophomore kicker. However, Mottl remained unfazed. He drilled the 34-yard attempt right down the middle, sending the Mustang faithful into a frenzy for the second time in the past three weeks. St. Rita outlasted Mt. Carmel 31-28 in one of the most memorable games in the two teams’ storied rivalry.
The Mustang defense struck first on Mt. Carmel’s opening possession. Safety AJ Jones scooped up a Michael Kennedy fumble on the Caravan’s first offensive play and scampered into the end zone for an early 7-0 Mustang lead. After consecutive Mt. Carmel touchdowns gave them a 14-7 lead, Zylman hooked up with his favorite target, senior tight end Tim Zaleski (six catches - 74 yards, 1 touchdown) on a 20-yd touchdown pass with under 30 seconds to play in the half. That sent the two teams to the locker room tied at 14.
The St. Rita offense came out of halftime rolling. They drove 64 yards on ten plays behind the running of senior running back Shaun Rule (16 rushes - 115 yards, six catches - 60 yards) and junior running back Chris Childers (four rushes – 22 yards) to take a 21-14 lead. Mt. Carmel took the lead back, as they scored on consecutive possessions to take a 28-21 lead in the fourth quarter. That set the stage for another epic Mustang comeback.
St. Rita (3-2, 2-0) sits alone atop the Catholic League Blue. They travel to Wilmette this Saturday to battle #1-ranked Loyola (5-0, 1-0). They look to move one step closer to winning their first CCL Blue title since 2013. The game is Saturday in Wilmette at 1:30 p.m. following the sophomore game, which kicks off at 11:00 a.m.
The St. Rita-Providence rivalry has produced some epic battles through their years together in the Chicago Catholic League. One that comes to mind is the Class 7A State Semi-Final game in 2006 when junior kicker Steve Flaherty kicked the game-winning field goal with just under 10 seconds to play to send the Mustangs to their first state championship game appearance since 1978. Believe it or not, Friday night’s Catholic Blue opener at Doyle Stadium between the two Augustinian rivals was even more memorable.
A two-point conversion run by sophomore wide receiver Jake Stefanski (7 rushes - 32 yards, 2 catches - 43 yards) was the difference as the Mustangs (2-1, 1-0) outlasted the rival Celtics 32-31 in overtime.
With St. Rita trailing 24-14 in the fourth quarter, junior quarterback Jake Zylman (12-30, 219 yards passing, 3 TDs, 20 carries, 79 yards rushing) led the Mustang offense on an impressive 18-play, 86-yard touchdown drive. The drive culminated with a 23 yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Timmy Zaleski (6 catches 92 yards, 3 TDs) to cut the deficit to 24-21. The Mustang defense needed one last stop to give the offense a chance to tie or win in regulation. After two long Celtic runs, they found themselves inside the St. Rita 1-yd line with just over 2 minutes to play and the Mustangs out of timeouts--then St. Rita interceded. The Celtics handed off to senior running back Richie Warfield only to have the ball fall to the ground and senior Mustang safety Liam Kelly recovered. The Mustang offense would take over on their own six-yard line with two minutes to play and no timeouts.
After an incompletion, Zylman hit senior running back Shaun Rule (2 catches - 57 yards, 10 rushes - 41 yards) on a wheel route up the St. Rita sideline for 38 yards--and the Mustang offense was in business. After consecutive negative-yardage plays, Zylman hit Zaleski for 20 yards on third-and-18, to keep the drive alive. Two plays later, Zylman hit Stefanski over the middle for 30 yards moving St. Rita deep into Providence territory. After three straight incompletions, including an almost circus catch by Zaleski in the corner of the south end zone for the win, sophomore kicker Gavin Mottl calmly came on and drilled a game-tying 36-yard field goal to send the game to overtime at 24-24.
The Mustangs would win the toss and choose to go on defense in the overtime period. After a first down holding call against the Celtics marched the ball back to the 19-yard line, Providence scored on a seam route to their slot receiver to take a 31-24 lead.
St. Rita then took over from the 10-yard line and after three plays they had netted only one yard. Facing a fourth-and-goal with the game on the line, Zylman again called upon his best receiver. Zaleski made a diving catch in the back corner of the north end zone making the score 31-30. Head Coach Todd Kuska '90 had already made up his mind that if given the opportunity he would roll the dice and go for the win, so he did just that. With Jake Stefanski in motion, Zylman handed the ball off to the speedy sophomore, and he easily barreled into the end zone for a 32-31 Mustang victory. Pandemonium then set in on the Mustang sideline and in the home stands as St. Rita rushed the field to celebrate an unforgettable win!
St. Rita (2-1, 1-0) will host the St. Laurence Vikings this Friday night in the annual homecoming game. Kickoff is set for 7:30, which will be preceded by an alumni, family and friends party from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. on campus, at the McCarthy Center.
Written by: John Nee '93
These are not your father’s St. Rita Mustangs. Through two games, the Mustang offense has put up numbers never before seen on 77th & Western or 63rd & Claremont for that matter.
St. Rita is averaging a whopping 50 points-per-game thus far this season; but the true tests begin this week with the Chicago Catholic League Blue schedule beginning with a visit from Augustinian-rival Providence Catholic.
In the Mustangs’ 2016 home opener on Friday night, St. Rita (1-1) beat Rich Central 56-19. With many “experts” picking the Olympians to upset the Mustangs after a tough week one loss to St. Pat’s, Todd Kuska’s '90 team responded in a big way on both sides of the ball. After allowing 47 points in the opener, the defense stood tall against the high-powered Olympian offense, holding them to only six points in the second half. Illinois-recruit Marc Mondesir led the way for the defense, pressuring the Rich Central quarterback all night long forcing him into two interceptions and a fumble, which was returned by Mondesir for a touchdown. Senior Will White also provided steady pressure all night long from his defensive tackle position for the Mustangs.
On offense junior quarterback Jake Zylman had another stellar game in his first career start. He rushed for over 100 yards for the second consecutive week while scoring three total touchdowns (two rushing, one passing). Senior running back Shaun Rule had a breakout game rushing for 223 yards and three touchdowns in less than three quarters of action. Senior wide receiver Mike McDevitt caught his second touchdown pass on the season (24 yards) and senior tight end Tim Zaleski added three catches for 40 yards for the Stangs.
St. Rita (1-1) will host Providence (1-1) this Friday night in both teams' Catholic Blue opener.
Game time is 7:30 p.m. at Doyle Stadium. The sophomore Mustangs (2-0) kickoff versus the Celtics at 5:00 p.m.
Go Rita Go!
Written by: John Nee '93
Things did not go as planned for the Mustangs in their 2017 opener at Soldier Field. After giving up a quick scoring strike to a very potent St. Patrick offense and a turnover on special teams, St. Rita found themselves down 13-0 to the Shamrocks before the crowd had even settled into their seats.
A 66-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Jake Zylman (Nathan Hale - Crestwood/7-17, 204 yards 4 TDs, 11 carries, 116 yards) to senior receiver Mike McDevitt (Keller Regional Gifted Center) cut the deficit to 13-7 late in the first quarter, but the Shamrock offense continued its assault on the Mustang defense as they took a 33-14 lead into the halftime locker room.
In the second half, the Mustang offense came alive--scoring on four of five possessions to start the half. A 19-yard scoring strike from Zylman to senior tight end Tim Zaleski (St. Catherine/4 catches, 122 yards, 3 TDs) cut the 19-point halftime deficit to 11 after a successful two-point conversion run by sophomore Jake Stefanski (Troy Middle School). A one-yard touchdown run by senior running back Shaun Rule (Calvin Christian Academy/16 carries 104 yards, 1 TD) kept the Mustangs close.
After back-to-back Zylman to Zaleski TDs (27 yards and 66 yards), St. Rita trailed 47-44 with just over eight minutes to play, but a botched FG attempt and a three-out in their final two fourth-quarter possessions doomed the Mustangs as they dropped the opener 47-44 to St. Pats.
St. Rita (0-1) will open their 2017 home schedule this Friday night, September 2, as the Olympians of Rich Central High School (1-0) travel to Doyle Stadium for a non-conference affair. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30pm.